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December 22, 2005

Modern + Vintage

Take two women on two separate paths, add a little soul, some vintage décor and a dash of Eames and what do you get? A mid-century modern melting pot. Penelope Green for The New York Times explains how two different philosophies on art and style came together to form the pitch-perfect dwelling.


Decorating With an Ear for Eames and R&B
By Penelope Green

THE first meeting between Laura Gottwald, an effervescent interior designer and jazz lover, and Margery Budoff, a personal injury lawyer and deeply committed audiophile, was so momentous that Ms. Budoff later had to rethink her undergarments.

It was 1995 and she had just moved into a one-bedroom apartment at Stewart House, the white brick, block-square monolith on East 10th Street in Manhattan, with Moby, an African Grey parrot; a pair of three-foot- tall, fidgety but lovely Quad 63 speakers; an assortment of amplifiers and pre-amps (heavy with tubes); and a handful of Chippendale chairs and tables (heavy with clawed feet). She also had a serious collection of vinyl - jazz, rhythm and blues, Latin and gospel recordings from the 1950's and 60's - and a huge black record washer. Curious and scholarly, Ms. Budoff was attempting at the time, she said the other day, "to just amass things."

"I was learning about antiques," she added, "and I didn't have any particular affinity for them. I just liked them because they were old."

A former child prodigy who played a piano concert series for children at the Brooklyn Museum when she was 8, Ms. Budoff has the sort of hungry intelligence that worries a fact like a terrier with a rubber ball. (In her teens, she would listen to the same John Coltrane record over and over until she grasped, "in a rudimentary way," as she described it, "the nature of improvisation over the heads of the tunes.")

When Ms. Gottwald came into Ms. Budoff's life, to untangle the antiques and stereo components and records, and to help her steer an aesthetic course, she offered mid-century modernism as a model. Ms. Budoff took to the style so enthusiastically that she began dressing to match her furniture, in 1950's foundation garments, pointy shoes and little suits.

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